Naturally-occurring bacteria to stop transmission of mosquito-borne illnesses

Naturally-occurring bacteria to stop transmission of mosquito-borne illnesses

Introducing a naturally-occurring bacterium in the wild can help control mosquito-borne diseases like zika and dengue; multiple small-scale observational trials conducted in various countries have shown.

In the trials conducted in Australia, Colombia and Vietnam, the researchers released mosquitoes infected with naturally occurring bacteria called Wolbachia, and found that it stopped viruses responsible for zika illness and dengue fever from growing inside the mosquitoes and thus spreading of the illnesses.

Wolbachia occurs naturally in nearly 60 per cent of the world’s insect species, but doesn’t exist in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are responsible for spreading dengue and zika viruses. Thus, a team of researchers manually developed injected the bacteria to the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Now, governments in affected areas like Brazil and Colombia are planning to release millions of mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia to tackle the illnesses.

Dr. Trevor Mundel, the president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s global health division, said, “Wolbachia could be a revolutionary form of protection against mosquito-borne disease. It’s affordable, sustainable, and appears to provide protection against Zika, dengue, and a host of other viruses.”

The $18 million program will be supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the U.S., U.K. and Brazilian governments. It also enjoys the support of the World Health Organization.

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